A business-savvy teenager has turned his hobby into a career.
Sam Elliott, of Whiteleas, South Shields, is opening his own shop selling kayaks, canoes, and paddling equipment.
Shields Padding Company opens tomorrow at South Shields Business Works, in Henry Robson Way.
The former Bamburgh School pupil, 18, found a love for paddling during his school days.
He said: “I went to college when I left school to do a hardware and networking course but it wasn’t for me so I left and started working with my dad, Keith at his building company, Grove Building Services.
“I saved up some money then decided to try college again, doing art this time, but I just didn’t like it so I decided to just go for it and open my own shop.
“I did paddling in school and really got into it, then I found out that my dad used to do it when he was younger too.”
Sam, who has autism spectrum disorder, will be selling everything from £10 dry bags to £3,000 boats in his shop, which he says is quite unique to the area.
Sam, who is a member of Roker Canoe Club, added: “The closest paddling shop to here is in Middlesbrough and I’ve even got some exclusive brands. I’m going to be the only UK dealer selling Titan Kayaks and I’ll be the one of the most northern selling Nigel Dennis Kayaks.
“I set up a Facebook page for the shop and have already had a big response from local paddlers and I’ve got over 200 likes.”
Sam said setting up the shop has been quite a challenge.
He said: “This industry is actually a lot harder to get into than I thought.
“It’s hard to get support from bigger brands when you’re first starting out but hopefully I’ll build things like that up in time.
“People have been really impressed with me starting my own business when I’m only 18 and my parents are really proud of me.
“I’m proud of myself as well and just hope that people in the area come along to the shop.
“I think the shop in Middlesbrough is the only other one in the North East, and then the closest one other than that is in the Scottish boarders.
“I really love paddling so I’m excited to have turned it into a business. I’m looking forward to getting the shop open.”
To find out more about the shop, go to www.facebook.com/ShieldsPaddlingCompany